Review: The Iron Witch by Karen MahoneyThe Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
Series: The Iron Witch #1
Published by Corgi Childrens on January 20th 2011
Pages: 304
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Rating:

Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.

When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

Thoughts: Ok, I know it’s superficial and whatnot, but this cover is absolutely stunning. Breathtakingly stunning. The golden swirls around what appears to be a terrified girl clutching a… well, it’s something gorgeous, whatever it is. Not to mention, the special Waterstones version of this book has gold paper edges. Fierce.

Unfortunately, the book itself is not so fierce.

Let’s start off with the good stuff. The beginning of the book is absolutely swoon-worthy. The world and its characters are dark, mysterious, and gothic – rather like its cover. It was like Florence and the Machine put into words. We meet Donna and her (male) BFF heading to a party where she is far from welcome.  (Why said BFF would drag her to along to such an event is but one of the plot holes that will become evident soon enough.) There, Donna meets  Xan and there’s a spark – literally, a spark – between them.  It’s not insta-romance, but it is insta-connection. But I felt it through the pages, so I was not complaining.

But after that fabulous opening scene, the book starts to show its rather unfortunate flaws. There are absolutely no explanations for anything in this book. For example, the alchemists are seeking out eternal life at any cost. Donna knows this. Donna was taught this. It’s basically the bedrock of their alchemist community. And yet, that never bothered her?

Then there are the wood elves – cast as the ultimate creepy villians. And yet, we never find out why they are evil. Why did they kill Donna’s parents? What is supposed to be motivating them? And if they’re so bad, why is half-fey Xan such a sweetheart? And speaking of sweethearts, was there supposed to be some sort of romantic triangle going on here?  Because, if so, I missed that altogether. This is just basic plot stuff that The Iron Witch just doesn’t have.

Bottom line? If this book had been about 10x longer –  giving the characters, universe, and relationships the fleshing out they deserved – it would have been fantastic. This book is getting stars for its potential, not for its content. Alas.

Kay

Your ghost host at Dead Book Darling
Kay's been blogging about urban fantasy, young adult and werewolves since 2009. She's a firm believer in the many uses of the towel, the science of deduction and other fandom in-jokes. To support her book-buying habit, Kay keeps up a day-job as a science journalist (so feel free to ask her about Physics).

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